Several controlled trials have suggested that high consumption of red meat could be associated with a higher risk of mortality and chronic diseases. But how exactly does it impact the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) is not well known. This study aims to evaluate the risk of CHD associated with the consumption of processed and unprocessed red meat.

This prospective cohort study included a total of 43,272 men with no cardiovascular disease or cancer at baseline. The repeated measures of diet and lifestyle factors were considered during the study. The primary outcome of the study was the incidence of CHD.

During a follow-up of 1,023,872 person-years, 4,456 incident CHD cases were reported, 1,860 of which were fatal. Multivariate adjustment of the findings showed that risk factors (dietary and non-dietary) and meat intake (total, processed, and unprocessed) were associated with a modestly higher risk of CHD. When compared with red meat intake, the intake of combined plant protein sources was associated with a significantly lower risk of CHD (1.11-1.15 vs. 0.86).

The research concluded that the intake of red meat of all types was associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease, and the risk was subsided when red meat was substituted with combined plant protein.